Tim Slyfield, Jason Koster win judo medals

MATT RICHENS IN GLASGOW
Last updated 12:35 27/07/2014
Tim Slyfield
Photosport

OUCH: Tim Slyfield on his way to beating India's Sahil Pathanian, a man 12 years his junior by ippon.

Jason Koster
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TOUGH NUT: Jason Koster shows off his bronze medal after grinding out a win over long-time rival Duke Didier of Australia.
Tim Slyfield
Getty
STILL GOT IT: Twelve years after winning his first bronze medal, Tim Slyfield nabbed his second at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

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Standing on the Glasgow dais with a Kiwi mate on one side, a Scottish hero on the other and a bronze medal around his neck, Tim Slyfield took an extra moment to take it all in. 

While most of the successful New Zealand judo team already have an eye to the Rio Olympics, Slyfield, a 39-year-old father of two, called it quits.

That was his last time in the judo limelight; a career spanning 26-years, over. 

Twice he's come out of retirement to win a Commonwealth Games medal. The was a 12-year gap between comebacks.

Slyfield was 25 when he first gave the sport up. Two trainings a day and a next to non-existent social life led to him falling out of love with judo. 

So after the Sydney Olympics where Slyfield was knocked out in the round of 32, the 1999 New Zealand judoka of the year hung up his gi.

Eventually he slipped out of retirement and won a bronze in Manchester in 2002 before retiring again. 

He competed socially and was convinced to have another serious crack by national coach Rob Levy.

There won't be a third comeback.

"I never thought this would happen," he told Fairfax Media.

"I was finished after Sydney. Manchester was a bit similar to this, I just thought I'd give it a go. 

"But I've had enough now. For good. Every second tournament I go to I'm getting an injury and it's a serious one. It's a young man's sport.

"Look at the guy who beat me in the semifinal; he was just younger, quicker and fitter." 

Slyfield leaves the sport competitively as a happy man and his grin is even wider because he played his part in the five-medal haul in Glasgow.

Not only as an athlete, but behind the scenes; Slyfield is Judo New Zealand's high performance manager. 

New Zealand Judo's future might not have Slyfield competing in it, but it is looking bright, he said. 

"The team that we've got here is superb. It's one of the better teams we've sent away in recent years."

Just minutes after Slyfield won his bronze medal, Jason Koster won one as well.

Judo awards two bronze medals and the Kiwis, who didn't have to take each other on, won both.

Koster took on crowd favourite and eventual gold medallist Euan Burton, the Scottish flag bearer. 

Like his partner Moira de Villiers was a day before when she lost the women's under-70kgs final, Koster was clearly emotional about his medal.

Having missed out on qualifying for the London Olympics because of an ill-timed stomach bug on the eve of qualifying, the Rio Games are his big aim. 

The Commonwealths are a stepping stone, but one that means a lot. 

"This tournament was always for my family and friends. We've lost a few people over the last six to 12 months from the judo community. On a personal note, I lost one of my best friends Johnny, he took his own life in November. Prior to that we lost a young 15-year-old to cancer," he said. 

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"The fact that we've got all these people back home who are wanting us to do our best just to give them a glimmer of something. It means a lot to be able to do that."

Fellow Kiwis Sam Rosser and Ryan Dill-Russell also fought in bronze medal matches this morning, but were beaten.

- Stuff

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